UK cost agency turns down new Roche breast cancer drug

LONDON Tue Aug 6, 2013 12:08am BST

The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is pictured on the company's headquarters in Basel February 4, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is pictured on the company's headquarters in Basel February 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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LONDON (Reuters) - Roche's new breast cancer drug Perjeta is not worth using on Britain's state health service given its high price and the lack of data showing how long it might extend life, the country's healthcare cost watchdog said.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said on Tuesday it could not be sure of Perjeta's benefits, adding that not even the manufacturer estimated it would be considered cost-effective for the National Health Service.

NICE's draft recommendation against using Perjeta is now open for consultation before final guidance is issued.

Perjeta is designed to be used with Roche's older drug Herceptin, its second-biggest seller, for women with a form of cancer known as HER2-positive, which makes up about a quarter of all breast cancers. It won European approval in March.

It comes with hefty price tag, as a single 420 mg vial costs 2,395 pounds ($3,700). That is the dose recommended for use every three weeks, after an initial 840 mg loading treatment.

Roche said it had offered a discounted patient access scheme to the government but the health ministry had not yet made a decision on its proposal - a delay it strongly criticised.

The latest rebuff from NICE follows a number of previous rejections for new Roche cancer products that have been deemed too expensive for use on Britain's National Health Service.

Roche said Perjeta could become the seventh cancer treatment to be rejected by NICE since 2011, a record the drugmaker described as "poor and unacceptable."

While NICE raised concerns about lack of evidence for the drug's impact on overall survival, Roche said clinical trials had shown that patients taking Perjeta lived on average 6.1 months longer without their cancer getting worse - so-called progression-free survival - compared with those getting Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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